November 13, 1955
New York, New York
Whoopi Goldberg and her younger brother, Clyde, were raised by their mother, Emma, in a housing project in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Whoopi's father abandoned the family, and her single mother found herself working a variety of jobs to make ends meet.
At the tender age of eight, Whoopi was already appearing on stage and was a member of a New York children's theaters, the Hudson Child Guild and the Helena Rubinstein Children's Theatre. She continued her career and between gigs she worked as a bricklayer and funeral parlour make-up artist while appearing in bit Broadway parts including cult musicals Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. Her daughter Alexandra was born in 1974, the same year in which her first marriage ended in divorce.
She headed West in 1975 ending up in San Diego. While there she appeared in productions of Brecht's Mother Courage and Marsha Norman's Getting Out. But most importanly her comedic skills were honed with an improv group called "Spontaneous Combustion". It was during this period of her career that Whoopi came up with an idea of a lifetime. She began appearing on stage in a one-woman show in which she changed characters in rapid succession. Her idea was so successful that she was able to take what she called her "Spook Show", on a European tour.
Whoopi became a hot performer in New York and director Mike Nichols produced her stage show as a television series. Goldberg's success drew Steven Spielberg's attention and he cast her in the title role in his film The Color Purple. It was a role that won her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Hollywood took note...Whoopi was worth more than a good belly laugh.
From there Whoopi went on to appear in a steady stream of popular motion pictures including Jumpin' Jack Flash, Fatal Beauty, Clara's Heart, and Ghost, for which she took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She scored a worldwide hit with Sister Act, and has gained the respect of serious film critics the world over.
Probably one of her most noted roles however, was in the television sci-fi series, Star Trek: Next Genertation, where she played bartender and advisor to Patrick Steward's Captain Picard. It was a role she got neither credit for or was paid, but certainly made her fans quite happy.
Photo © Unknown - Bio by ThespianNet.com ©2001
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